What are traffic restriction schemes?
Traffic restriction schemes take many forms, but all aim to reduce motor traffic in the area surrounding a school at pick-up and drop-off times. In this study we are looking at schemes which are reinforced either by volunteers or the use of cameras.
These schemes work to reduce motor traffic during journeys to and from school, to improve safety and air quality and promote active methods of travel (e.g. walking and cycling). However, few studies have explored the effectiveness of such schemes to understand how they work and whether they work the same way in different places.
Why does this matter?
Motor vehicles contribute to air and noise pollution and injuries caused by traffic accidents. Children’s developing bodies and lungs make them especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Children may also be less aware of road safety and at more risk of injury from accidents.
Using active methods of transport to and from school, like walking, cycling and scooting, may help keep children and their families more active and improve their wellbeing. However, there is little solid evidence to support these benefits.
What will we look at?
We will look at schools who have schemes to reduce traffic at drop-off and pick-up times and compare these to similar schools without these schemes. We want to answer a few different questions.
- Do schemes to restrict motor traffic make children more likely to travel to school in active ways, such as walking, cycling or scooting?
- How do the schemes work to change the way children travel to school?
- Do the schemes work the same way in different places, or does this differ across areas because of differences in schools, local area or the people who live there?
- If the schemes work differently in different places, how can we make sure they are most effective across settings?
How will we do this?
We will look at the research which has already been done on schemes to restrict motor traffic around schools and talk to research partners to understand how traffic restriction schemes might work. We will then look at places in the UK where these schemes are in place and choose 6-8 sites to study. These sites will all be from different areas, to try to capture the range of settings across the UK.
We will use data which are already being collected about the way children get to school and compare the sites we have chosen with similar sites where schemes are not in place. We will also ask children and their families what they think about these schemes and how they can be improved, to help us understand how the schemes work.
Community partners who are working to improve active travel to school in the UK will help us with this research. Young people will also inform our work via a youth group. We will share our findings in several ways, for example in blogs and podcasts, as well as in academic publications. Our youth group will help us to decide the best ways to share our results widely.